The fest's other marquee visitor is actor William H. Macy (October 18), perhaps best known as the bumbling car salesman who hired kidnappers to snatch his wife in Fargo. Winner of the John Cassavetes Award, which honors independent filmmakers, Macy will bring his new feature, The Cooler, about a luckless Las Vegas casino employee who's on the payroll to stop hot players' winning streaks.
DIFF 26 will also offer a thirteen-film salute to Italian cinema, featuring classics like La Dolce Vita and La Strada and new films such as Franco Piavoli's highly experimental At the First Breath of Wind; Roberta Torre's street-wise Mafia drama, Angela; and MarcoTulio Giordana's sweeping six-hour family epic, The Best of Youth. Irish director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot) will be represented by his new In America, about a traumatized Irish family that immigrates illegally to New York to make a fresh start. Actor Djimon Hounsou will appear at the October 11 showing.
Movie buffs will be intrigued by Cinerama Adventure, which chronicles the history of the glamorous wide-screen, three-camera process that tried to overwhelm TV's puny but powerful imagery in the 1950s. And the time couldn't be better for PeaceJam, a simple but powerful documentary produced by the pacifist organization of the same name that makes its case for non-violence through the stories of four people whose childhoods were scarred by blood and trauma.
Among the sixty or so fictional films, look for Brazil's Bus 174, in which a Rio de Janeiro bus hijacking grows into an indictment of a society that neglects its children, and The Barbarian Invasions, from Canada's Denys Arcand, which catches up, seventeen years later, with the characters he first created in The Decline of the American Empire. The new one from Gus Van Sant is called Elephant and is another recent film exploring a Columbine-style massacre in an American high school. Van Sant shot in his home town of Portland, Oregon, using high school students as actors.
The Colorado Filmmakers Program will acquaint festival-goers with the work of some exciting independent locals, and Denverites are sure to be intrigued with a return visit by documentarian George Hickenlooper (cousin of Mayor John Hickenlooper), the director of Mayor of the Sunset Strip, which profiles legendary Los Angeles disc jockey and celebrity-collector Rodney Bingenheimer.
Other film-world luminaries coming to the festival this year include Native American actor Wes Studi (October 17), who starred in Pow Wow Highway and Geronimo: An American Legend and played opposite Kevin Costner in Dances With Wolves; Campbell Scott (October 17), the son of George C., who has branched out from acting (Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Roger Dodger) into directing. This year he brings his new effort, titled Off the Map, about a mysterious family living in a remote region of the New Mexico desert.
Looking for a touch of controversy? Director Brian Patrick will appear October 11 and 12 with Burying the Past: Legacy of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, which looks at the infamous mass murders of 140 men, women and children traveling by wagon train from Arkansas to California in 1857.